Tuesday, September 30, 2008

It has been one year today . . .

since the passing of my beautiful cousin Katherine Razzolini. Her friends and family called her Kerry. She was walking with some friends when she was struck and killed by a drunk driver who fled the scene and was later apprehended.

When I think of Kerry, I don't like to think of that night. My mind just can't make sense of it - someone driving away and leaving my beautiful cousin there. My heart feels such rage and overwhelming anger while my head knows this preoccupation accomplishes nothing. Kerry is gone and life for those who knew her is changed forever.

Kerry was only 22 years old. She was working and finishing a college degree when her life was tragically cut short. Amazingly beautiful inside and out, she was truly remarkable. So outgoing and friendly, Kerry's smile only hinted at her real beauty - her incredible zest for life that was so contagious it was almost palpable. She didn't sit on the sidelines watching as life passed her by. She dove right in - completely immersing herself - never missing an opportunity or experience. She lived her life almost as if she had somehow known her time here on earth would be too short. Much too short.

Our families would spend Labor Day weekends together at the cabin in Steamburg, NY. I feel her presence there more than anywhere else, almost as if the hills cradle her precious memory. Our gatherings there will never be the same. Nothing will ever be the same without her because someone chose to drink and get behind the wheel of a vehicle.

Instead of being angry, I want to try as hard as I can to find the lesson. The lesson that will tell me what I already know - that her life had purpose, a divine purpose that I can only begin to understand.

I remember watching her parents at her funeral and wondering how they were still standing. They stood TOGETHER in unimaginable grief. They bravely stood next to Kerry greeting visitors, her father with his arm around her mother. It was as if he was holding her up, steadying her, channeling his strength into her with his embrace. I remember thinking what a good, strong man he was and it made me thank God that I am married to a good man too. A man who doesn't need to say a word but steadies me by his presence alone.

I hugged Megan a lot tighter that day and every day since then. I've tried to fill our days with love and not waste a single moment we have together. I've made a conscious effort to make sure I'm living my life, throwing myself into everything (just like Kerry.) None of us can really be sure if we have one day, one week, one year, or one lifetime left here. Because of Kerry, I want to make sure that when it is over for me, I've filled my days with as much joy as I could cram in, loving and REALLY LIVING life as she did.

Her death touched me in a very personal way and changed me for the better. I'm sure this must have somehow been part of the divine plan. Also part of that plan were the people who received the loving gift of her organs -her final act of selflessness and love. The plan must have included all the people who became better, stronger, and more loving for having known Kerry.

The message is likely different for all of us. Some may think twice before getting behind the wheel while drunk. Some may become organ donors, inspired by her story. Whatever the case may be, the one thing I know for sure is the world is a much better place because it was graced by her soul for 22 years.

She is an angel now.

But if you really think about it, an angel is what she had always been.